Blacklight: Retribution Full Review
By Isaac Sagoe (afromania), OnRPG Journalist
Blacklight: Retribution (BLR) is a multiplayer online FPS developed by Zombie Studios, as a retooled sequel to their previous title Blacklight: Tango Down. The game features a futuristic vibe which includes advanced weaponry, anime-influenced cyberpunk environments and giant mech suits.
The control system in BLR is very typical of what you would expect from an FPS game: WASD keys for movement, mouse for aiming and shooting, space bar to jump, etc. The feel of the controls are very responsive, and there’s plenty of ways to tweak the controls to find your total comfort zone. There’s even direct support for gamepads, but no auto aim features, so it’s not very recommended if you want to be at the top of your game.
The customization is very in-depth. Players have the choice to customize type of guns they bring into battle, including barrels, muzzles, scopes, handles, grips, stocks, you name it, and not only with guns, but there’s also different armors, helmets, boots and whatnot that players can select and tweak. On top of that, there are small perks including weapon tags and nodes that will give you a slight boost in different passive actions including weapon switching speed or reload speed. It’s a game that really tries to cater to every kind of FPS play style out there.
As players go through the game, they will level up and earn GP (in-game currency) to spend on new equipment. When players purchase items using GP, they can either buy items for 1-day, 7-days, or permanently. Now earning 1-day items isn’t much of a big deal, as you can play one or two matches and earn enough GP to obtain them, but unlocking permanent items using GP has some incredibly ridiculous prices that requires you to play tons of matches for days in order to obtain. There’s also the issue of equipment being locked away due to level limits. Besides from using GP to unlock stuff, players can also use Zen (PWI’s cross title real money system) in order to buy items.
The issue here is that players can use Zen to unlock stuff early, since many items require players to achieve a certain level before they can be purchased with GP. This can give players the perception that players can “Pay-to-Win”, but it’s not so much of it being a case of paying to win, as it’s more of a case of just paying to unlock stuff early.
This is done through a clever balancing system between equipment where higher tier equipment isn’t necessarily better than lower end equipment, it just is split up to be really strong at certain functions at the cost of other category stats. For instance, if you decide to get that fancy new barrel that increases damage output, you’re going to deal with having more recoil, or if you want to get that armor set that increases you defense, you’re going to be sacrificing movement speed. What I’m trying to say here is that most of the items you can obtain are all sidegrades, and there are only a handful of items that I would consider to be direct upgrades of other items.
The default armor and weapon that players get when they start playing is the most balanced weapon available, and a decent player should be able to top themselves on the leaderboards with no problem. I sure have on many occasions and I’m usually in the top 3 in every match I’ve played, and I’ve never spent a dime on anything.
The core gameplay in BLR very much plays like a futuristic version of CoD: Modern Warfare. You run and gun while using iron sights for more accurate shots, earn points from killing enemies to use special equipment from supply depots and use that equipment to rack up more points and kills. One major feature of BLR is the HRV: Hyper Reality Visor, which lets you see the position of all friendlies, enemies, traps and supply depots on the map. Think of it as a legitimate wall hack, if you will. Since there’s no mini-map, players will have to use the HRV to get an idea of what’s going on and how to appreciate a situation. One major downside to the HRV is that you can’t fire at enemies while it’s activated, so you’ll have to be very careful while it’s in use. Getting caught with your HRV on is very much like getting caught with your pants down.
I believe the idea behind the HRV was that it’s supposed to crack down on player camping and promote active gameplay, but people still manage to camp anyway.
Other than the HRV, there’s nothing super or spectacular about BLR’s core gameplay, but it’s still very solid.
The amount of game modes that BLR has to offer is pretty respectable, including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Domination, CTF, KotH, Kill Confirmed, and NetWar which is like a mix between Domination and CTF. While none of the game modes in particular except NetWar stand out, they’re tried and true options that any FPS shouldn’t go without and they definitely give the game some variety.
Graphics and Presentation
BLR has an excellent cyberpunk vibe going for it, with many of the environments looking like they were ripped straight from an episode of Ghost in the Shell. Visuals look great from a technical standpoint, with the power of Unreal Engine 3 tech; you get some delicious lighting effects, tessellation and many other DirectX11 features.
The weapons sound appropriate for the game’s futuristic vibe, but there isn’t much music to help create some atmosphere during battles. In the end it isn’t really needed as the maps are compact enough that constant gunfire and explosions would drown out the music anyway. The visuals were enough stimulation to keep me pumped. What little music there is available in the game is either simple digital electronic tunes and some dubstep.
I would have to say that the community in BLR is very good, as most of the players are very cool with each other. The players I’ve dealt with were very polite at the end of a match, and there were only a few occasional bad eggs. The community features were pretty standard, which a basic friends list, clan support, and chatting lobbies. All standard stuff that you would expect from a multiplayer focused game, and they all work as intended.
As a F2P title, it’s all fair and balanced so trying to pin your losses on others that unlocked equipment early won’t hold much water here. The visuals are wonderful for any fans of cybperpunk anime and overall I’d have to say that it’s a pretty enjoyable experience for those that want a CoD: Modern Warfare-like FPS experience for those that don’t want to play an actual Modern Warfare game. The high levels of customization really help add a feeling of personalization to your character that you rarely get to experience in FPS titles these days.
Controls – 3
Customization – 4
Gameplay – 3
Graphics & Presentation – 4
Community – 4